In February 2024, RCOA made a submission to the The Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs’ inquiry into the Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023 and the Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No.1) Bill 2023.
RCOA welcomes the establishment of the Administrative Review Tribunal and the abolishment of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (ART) and the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA). As we have previously stated, the AAT was heavily politicised, experienced massive backlogs and undermined public confidence in the merits review process. The IAA established a review system that was neither fair nor efficient – in nine years the IAA has still not reviewed all applicants through the ‘fast track process’. In many instances, it has had its decisions overturned by the Federal Courts. Both bodies had failed in their duties to provide a fair and effective review of asylum applications that ensures that those who fear persecution are not returned to harm. We hope that the new ART will address these issues and believe that the proposed legislation will go a long way in ensure a fair and independent merits review system.
However, we are also concerned that many of the procedural elements of the AAT regarding migration and refugee cases are maintained in the new ART, due to the exemptions outlined in the Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2023. It is disappointing that the new and improved provisions in the new Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023 (ART Bill) do not apply to refugee and migration cases under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). Indeed, maintaining a separate set of procedures for migration and refugee cases will lead to further inefficiencies, appeals and potentially, the denial of refugee protection leading to refoulement.
We recommend that the procedures in the new ART Bill apply equally to migration and refugee cases, and that the separate set of procedures under the Migration Act 1958 be removed from the Consequential and Transitional Provisions Bill.